Sara Eelen in Poland


Poetry workshops with Sara Eelen in Poznań

On January 16, the Flemish poet Sara Eelen came to Poznań at the invitation of the Department of Dutch and South African Studies of the Faculty of English at the Adam Mickiewicz University. She met twice with students of Dutch Studies and talked about her volume “Het Nodige Breken” at an author meeting at the Raczyński Library. Last year, Eelen's poetry debut was awarded the prestigious Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (Dutch Literary Association) prize, and a selection of Eelen's poems is currently being translated into Polish by Professor Jerzy Koch. In addition to poetry, the 29-year-old Belgian has also an avid interest in film and photography, although she is a social worker by profession. Additionally, she is an active member of the so-called “Klimaatdichters” (Climate Poets) group, traces of which can be seen in her work.

On Tuesday, Sara Eelen joined the second-year master's students at a workshop, during which the author helped refine the translations of selected poems that the students translated as part of their Literary Translation class. The following day in the department, Sara had the opportunity to read her poems to the students at an open meeting and talked in detail about her activist work as a Climate Poet, as well as her creative process. Students had the opportunity to ask the author their own questions and get to know her better.

On the evening of January 17, an author meeting hosted by Professor Jerzy Koch took place in the Raczyński Library. First, the artist read her poems in the original and then the translator presented their Polish translations, although this order was sometimes changed, which was an interesting experience for that part of the audience who did not know Dutch. Sara Eelen responded extensively to the questions put to her. Referring to works with a more social tone, she talked about combining poetry with activism and about her environmental work and involvement in society. Master's students of the Dutch Studies also had the opportunity to present their own translations of poems of a more personal nature to the audience. The poet was asked about the autobiographical dimension of her poetry. She admitted that she tries to create universal pieces so that her readers can find themselves in the anecdotal elements and the way they are captured. She draws inspiration from simple, everyday images and poetry, just like photography and film impressions she practises, is a way for her to perceive the world. The award she received and how it influenced her career and her approach to creating was also mentioned. Because of the prestigious award, the poet has gained notoriety both in Belgium and in the Netherlands, and there have been quite a few reviews and interviews in the media. She confessed that, thanks to the award, she feels more confident in her craft and writing now comes easier to her. She is currently working on a volume of essays, for which she has moved from the small Belgian publishing house where she debuted to a more serious Dutch publisher. At last, the audience asked questions about the writing process and the deliberate structure of the volume, popularity of reading in Belgium, and the Climate Poets group. Sara's answers were translated by AMU lecturer, Joanna Meesters.

From right: Joanna Meesters, Jerzy Koch, Sara Eelen and students (2MA) of Dutch Studies at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (photo: Hanna Bereźnicka)

In the Library (photo: Hanna Bereźnicka)

Sara Eelen reading to the students (photo: Hanna Bereźnicka)